How many different gaming headsets do you reckon Turtle Beach currently offers? Perhaps 10 or 15? Try 27 - and that's not including console-specific models. By the time you're reading this there'll probably be even more, so it's hardly surprising that the 'new' Ear Force Z22 is a dead ringer for the existing PX22.
Crucially though, the Z22 has red trim rather than blue and costs a few quid more. So why else should you stick these cans on your noggin?
First impressions aren't that great, frankly. Although build quality seems fine, the plastic hinges don't feel like they'd survive being thrown at the screen in anger when you've been fragged for the umpteenth time by that son-of-a-toad sniper who refuses to fight like a man.
Still, at least Turtle Beach hasn't done a Creative and lost sight of comfort. The Z22's cloth-covered foam ear cushions fit nicely with no pinching and stay cool during prolonged sessions. The headband padding is just as comfy, and the microphone is flexible enough to bend wherever you want it.
But its real party piece is that box of tricks hanging halfway down the cable. Dubbed an 'in-line amp', it powers the headset so your sound card doesn't have to. The result is much like Creative's EVO Zx, but without the sexy software to play with.
Instead, physical dials are used to adjust bass and treble, alongside individual volume controls for headset and mic. There's a slight whiff of Walkman here, but it all works well enough. Alternatively you can bypass the amp and plug straight in to your PC, media player or phone - but then you'll miss out on some killer features.
As well as the volume and tone control, the amp tweaks the mic's gain and enables the added bonus of Dynamic Chat Boost to enhance your in-game team talk, ensuring you can still be heard when all hell breaks loose on the battlefront. And don't forget the auxiliary input that'll feed in sound from your phone or other music source while you're gaming. Sweet. The amp also lifts audio quality from whatever your soundcard can muster to a level where you'd be hard-pressed to tell the performance apart from the far pricier EVO Zx.
Gaming and movie effects retain similar clarity, bass response and overall punch. Only during a few music tracks do higher frequencies lose some composure and sound a tad harsh. It's not enough of a problem to have you forking out the extra cash for the Creative cans though, and you won't have to put up with a mediocre hidden microphone either.
Whether set to low or high gain, vocals sound crisp and close with minimal background interference. This latest Turtle Beach headset has the major bases well covered, but at this price it's got to contend with QPad's terrific QH-90. Although the Z22 canes QPad's offering on the gadgetry front, the latter's quality construction and sublime sound are hard to ignore.
Even so, the extra versatility of the Z22 headset does make it a pretty tempting alternative.